Chapter Three

Gaston awoke the next morning to find that the pain in his stomach had subsided. He pulled back his blankets and forced himself out of bed. He rubbed his eyes and walked over to where he had thrown his clothes the night before. As he bent down to pick his mother's hideous old pink dress up, something caught his eye. His mouth fell open in horror. There was blood all over his sheets. He looked down at his legs. Blood was running down his thighs. He had been wounded! Someone must have stabbed him during the night. No, that was ridiculous, he told himself.

"Gabrielle, are you awake? We're here to make your dress!"

The door opened and the Baudelaire triplets entered the room. Upon seeing Gaston's completely naked body, they stopped in their tracks.

"Gabrielle, we're making you a new dress, but you don't have to be completely naked," said Coralie, raising an eyebrow. "You can still wear your stays and a chemise."

"What's wrong?" asked Rosalie. "You look frightened."

"I'm bleeding," Gaston told them.

"What happened?" questioned Rosalie.

"Are you wounded?" asked Emilie.

"No," answered Gaston. "I just woke up and there was blood all over my sheets."

The triplets exchanged glances.

"Is the blood coming from between your legs?" asked Rosalie.

Gaston nodded.

"How old are you?" Coralie asked.

"Twenty-six," answered Gaston.

"And this has never happened before?" asked Rosalie

Gaston shook his head. The girls exchanged glances again.

"Well, I suppose every woman is different," said Rosalie. "I'm surprised, though. You seem so… developed."

"We first got ours when we were fourteen," said Coralie. "Our friend Danielle got hers when she was nine, so everyone is different."

"Don't worry, the bleeding will stop in a couple of days," Emilie assured him.

"Only for a few weeks, though," Rosalie pointed out.

"You mean… this is going to happen again?" asked Gaston, his eyes widening in horror.

"Every month," confirmed Coralie.

"For how long?" asked Gaston.

"It usually lasts around thirty to forty years," answered Emilie.

"Unless you have a baby," said Rosalie. "Then it stops for a while."

Gaston stared down at his stomach as a thought crossed his mind. He could physically bear a child. It had never occurred to him before. This fact terrified and disgusted him. The mere idea of him carrying and giving birth to a child was preposterous.

"Come on, let's get you cleaned up," said Emilie.

"You can use rags and sponges to stop the blood from leaking. We've got some spare ones at home. You can have them if you want," offered Rosalie.

Coralie and Emilie fetched a small bucket of water as Rosalie ran home. They removed his bed sheets and left Gaston alone in his room to wash himself. After he finished, he found a pair of tight linen drawers deep in his wardrobe and used it hold one of the rags that Rosalie had given him in place. He pulled on a long chemise that the triplets had found in his mother's old bedroom, and walked out into the kitchen where he found the girls sitting at the table. A pile of fabric was sitting before them. His bed sheets were soaking in a barrel of water near the door.

"What colour do you want your dress to be?" asked Coralie. "We've got pink, purple, and red fabrics."

"Red," said Gaston quickly. "Definitely red."

"Excellent choice!" exclaimed Rosalie happily, glancing down at her own red dress.

"You'd look gorgeous in red!" gushed Emilie.

"Gaston looked pretty fine in red too," said Coralie. "I suppose it runs in the family."

Rosalie and Emilie echoed their sister's sentiments. Gaston grinned. The girls set to work cutting up various fabrics and pinning them around his body. All the while, they spoke endlessly about Gaston and how wonderful he had been when he was alive. Gaston couldn't stop beaming. He didn't even mind that much when one of the girls stabbed him with a pin.

"We'll sew this up tonight. It should be ready by tomorrow," promised Emilie as she folded up the dress.

Gaston spent the rest of the day polishing his guns and looking forlornly at his trophies. He had so many he'd had to start hanging them in the tavern. He wanted to go hunting again more than anything. A thought suddenly occurred to him. Why couldn't he go out hunting? There was nothing stopping him from doing it. His skills hadn't diminished just because he was in the body of a woman now.

The next morning, Gaston woke up, dressed, ate breakfast, grabbed his gun, and set off into the forest. He spent quite a bit of time wandering around the forest before he finally came across a noble, majestic stag. With a cunning grin, he raised his gun and struck the deer right in the middle of its stomach. Gaston beamed, slung the deer over his shoulder, and had started to head back towards the village when he heard a familiar voice behind him.

"It's Gaston's sister!"

Gaston turned around and saw Thomas, Richard, LeFou, and two other men who frequented the tavern, Jean and Damien, standing behind hm.

"What are you doing here?" LeFou asked, scowling.

"Who shot that stag?" asked Richard.

"I did," answered Gaston.

"Girls don't hunt," snorted LeFou. He turned to the other men. "I don't trust her. She probably got someone else to shoot it for her."

Gaston sneered and dumped the deer carcass on the floor. He raised his gun once more, peered around the trees, and pulled the trigger. An even larger stag fell to the ground. Gaston strode over and posed next to it triumphantly. The men gaped at him.

"She is Gaston's sister," said Jean. "Of course she's a good hunter."

"It's only natural," said Richard. "Here, let us help you carry those back to the village, Gabrielle."

The men helped Gaston carry the deer back to his house. When they got there, they found Emilie and Coralie waiting outside.

"There you are!" cried Emilie.

"We finished the dress," said Coralie.

"Guess what!" called Rosalie as she rushed up to them. "Auguste just asked Fabienne to marry him."

"Well, it's about time," said Emilie and Coralie together.

As the weeks went by, Gaston slowly began to gain the trust of the villagers. He had the heads of the two stags he had killed mounted on the wall of the tavern. He and the rest of the men went hunting quite often and Gaston almost always managed to out-hunt the lot of them. In the evenings, Gaston joined them in the tavern where basked in their attentions and drank copious amounts of alcohol. One evening in August, Gaston was walking home by himself when the triplets came up to

him and grabbed him by the wrist.

"Come on, Gabrielle!" Rosalie said.

"Where are we going?" asked Gaston.

"Fabienne's bridal shower, of course!" cried Emilie. "Come on!"

The girls took him to a small house just on the edge of town. It was filled to the brim with women who lived in the village, most of whom he recognised.

"Gabrielle, this is Vivienne, and this is Liliane, and this is-"

Gaston instantly tuned out. He already knew all these women. In fact, he knew some of them a little too well. He sunk into a chair near two gossiping older women, Madame Beaulieu and Madame Augustin.

"A friend of mine lives in Nevers," Madame Augustin was telling her friend. "She's married to a jeweller. She came to see me yesterday, and apparently her husband received a surprise visit from a certain customer and few days ago."

"Who was it?" asked Madame Beaulieu.

"The prince," answered Madame Augustin. "He's planning on asking someone to marry him."

"Which prince?" asked Madame Beauliu.

"Prince Adam. The one who lives in that lovely old castle in the forest," Madame Augustin said.

"But he hasn't been seen in years!" cried Madame Beaulieu. "I assumed he was dead."

"Apparently, he was being held hostage in his own castle by a horrific beast," said Madame Augustin. "I suppose that was the monster that Gaston killed. You'll never guess who he got engaged to."



"You mean our Belle?" asked Madame Beaulieu. "That's awful! Gaston died saving his life, and the first thing he does is move in on his girl."

"Gaston is dead," said Madame Augustin. "It's not as if the prince stole Belle from him. Belle didn't seem as if she wanted to marry Gaston at all, actually"

"That's true, but how could they do this so soon after Gaston's death? Don't they have any respect for him?" asked Madame Beaulieu, disgusted.

Gaston stood up and stormed out of the house, slamming the door behind him. His insides were churning with rage. He should be the one marrying Belle, not some monster, even if that monster was a prince now. He had worked so hard to woo her and, just when he had come up with a plan to finally catch her, he stole her away. He had tricked and manipulated her with money, presents, and a giant castle. She had been so distracted by the presents he had given her that she hadn't even noticed the great guy who had been there all along. It was so typical of a woman.

He looked down at his breasts and scowled. He hated this body and he hated pretending to be a woman. The entire village adored him, almost as much as they did before he was cursed. He had earned their respect, trust, and admiration. It was time to reveal the truth.

"Anything wrong, my little hazelnut?" asked Adam, a look of concern crossing his features. "Something has been troubling you all week."

Belle let out a deep sigh and looked up at her prince.

"I can't believe we haven't found Gaston's body yet," she said. "Are you sure you've checked everywhere?"

"We've looked all over the grounds, but there is no sign of him," Adam replied.

"I'm worried, Adam," said Belle. "He could still be out there."

"Belle, he fell hundreds of feet into a shallow ravine. There's no way he could have survived," said Adam. He smiled warmly at her. "And even if he did come back, I'll be here to protect you."

"You're very sweet, mignon, but you're not ten feet tall anymore," said Belle, grinning. "But I feel safe with you, anyway."

"Lumiere, can you bring the crème brûlées in now?" Adam called.

Lumiere strode in, carrying a small silver tray with two ramekins of crème brûlées on it. He winked at Adam and placed the two ramekins on the table.

"I'm sorry, Lumiere. I'm not too hungry tonight. I'm going to bed," Belle stood up and turned to Adam. An uncharacteristically suggestive glint was in her eyes. "I wonder if the cuddle monster will show up tonight."

"No!" Adam yelled, leaping out of his chair. Belle and Lumiere stared at him.

"No, Belle, please eat your dessert," he said as calmly as he could, sitting back down at the table. "Lumiere made them himself."

"Okay, okay, Adam. I'll eat it."

Belle sat back down at the table, picked up her spoon, and began eating.

"Belle, I know you might think this is a little sudden," Adam said as he watched Belle eat. "I know we agreed to wait, but we both know we love each other. I don't want to wait any longer."

Adam paused and waited for Belle to finish her dessert.

"That was wonderful, thank you, Lumiere!" Belle declared, setting her spoon down.

Adam and Lumiere glanced at each other.

"Belle, my darling, didn't you notice anything strange about your dessert?" asked Adam.

"No. Is there something wrong with yours?" Belle asked.

She peered over at Adam's side of the table and frowned.

"You haven't even touched it!" she exclaimed. She grinned slyly and narrowed her eyes in suspicion. "Are you two trying to play a trick on me?"

"No, tricks, I swear!" Adam said quickly. He picked up a spoon and tried to swallow a mouthful of crème brûlées, but he felt something hard and circular get stuck in his throat.

"I'm sorry, Master. I think I gave Mademoiselle Belle the wrong dessert," said Lumiere, peering into Belle's empty ramekin. "Master?"

Adam coughed and spluttered. Lumiere rushed over and slapped the prince on the back. The ring came flying out of Adam's mouth and landed right in the middle of Belle's empty ramekin. Lumiere seized it and ran into the kitchen. Adam slumped down in his chair. Belle rushed over to him.

"Adam, are you asking me to marry you?" she asked, brushing the hair away from his eyes.

Adam nodded.

"Well, why didn't you just say so? Of course I'll marry you!" Belle exclaimed.

"I wanted my proposal to be special, like you," Adam told her.

Lumiere ran into the room and pressed the clean ring into Adam's hand. Adam slipped the ring onto Belle's finger and the two of them embraced.